When traveling with the family in tow, staying at a hotel is never an easy option. With the kids along side you for your travels, be sure to consider not only our top 10 family friendly destinations, but also the option of staying in a vacation rental.
With a vacation rental you have all the amenities of a home at your fingertips. Almost all of the properties on our site offer a full kitchen, so you won’t have to rack up so many pricey restaurant bills. Unwind or spend an evening playing a game in your rental property’s family room, common space, or back-yard.
So, with no further ado, here is this year’s list of FlipKey’s top ten family vacation destinations:
A trip to Orlando is, perhaps, the quintessential family vacation. Between Shamu performing flips at Sea World and Cinderella’s Castle at Disney World sparkling on the horizon, kids won’t know what to do first. These resorts aren’t just great for the little ones; Orlando also has some seriously delicious dining. After a full day at the amusement park, relax with some gourmet eats at Emeril’s Orlando, or Jimmy Buffet’s chain of restaurants, Cheeseburger in Paradise. Once you’ve had your fill of theme parks, head to the Kennedy Space Center for a taste of real life thrills. Take a tour of a real rocket ship and the infamous grounds of the Apollo 13 flight center. Time it right and you might even be able to watch a space ship launch into the skies.
One of San Diego’s most popular attractions is the world-renowned San Diego Zoo. Bring your kids to see the zoo’s famous panda collection. After the zoo, head to Balboa Park and enjoy the beautiful botanical gardens, free IMAX movies, summer concert series, and over 14 museums. With so many museums to choose from, you are virtually guaranteed to find exhibits that cater to the diverse interests of every family member.
Museums range in subject matter from science and air and space, to automotive, sports, and art museums. Also, be sure to visit one of Balboa Park’s most child-inspired attractions, the Puppet Theatre, which is designed to seat over 200 people. Wow, talk about puppets hitting the big time! After the puppet show, take the kids
The Bahamas are a great place to escape to with the whole family. Located in the Caribbean Ocean, the beaches here are exquisite. The Atlantis Resort is a great way to spend an afternoon. Your kids will love the 9 water slides, aquariums, and a shark tank (really). And for the parents they offer a top-notch spa, and a casino. The best part about it is they offer day passes for families that are not staying at the hotel, so you can enjoy the facilities by day and your vacation rental by night (without the hefty price tag of lodging at the hotel). Once you’ve had your fill here, get in touch with your aquatic side by swimming with the dolphins at Dolphin Encounters. Prince George Wharf is a great place to go to check out the local cuisine and traditions. This market sells everything Bahamian from jewelry and clothes to baskets and food!
London, England is a great family destination, offering a glimpse of foreign culture without a language barrier. Taking in the sites from the second floor of a double-decker big red bus is an exhilarating way to check out the city. The Princess Diana Memorial Playground is a great place to let your kids blow off some steam. Your kids will love the life-size pirate ships and tee-pees (modeled after Peter Pan). Be sure to take sometime for yourself and unwind, head to Coffee and Crayons Café, a coffee shop that will entertain your kids with arts and crafts while you enjoy some time to breathe.
If you have a family of museum lovers, The Tate Museum is a modern art museum that will invoke the imagination of all. With familiar and unfamiliar works of art sprinkled throughout this gallery, your whole family will love the experience. The Globe Theatre, home to Shakespeare’s original plays, is a treat for children and adults alike. Here you can see some of the classics performed in the setting that Shakespeare envisioned. Check out Matinee shows for ticket savings, while introducing the kiddies to some culture.
With zip lines that whiz you through the forest canopy, Jeep safari tours, sport fishing, and SCUBA diving, Puerto Vallarta is a great spot for the adventure hungry family. If you’re looking for some more excitement, the public squares hold fiestas that are open to the public and offer a taste of Mexico. Be sure to take some time to unwind on the beautiful ribbons of beaches that stretch along the coast. Puerto Vallarta has great festivals in the springtime, April and May specifically. May is witness to the month long Cultural Festival, where locals celebrate the customs and traditions of the region. With games, livestock, exhibits and local food, to the entire fam will be impressed and invigorated.
This appropriately named city is a beach haven for families. With what has been dubbed the ‘best boardwalk’ that stretches for miles (literally), every turn holds a new surprise. Your kids will love exploring the entertainment here. Street performers, arcades, carousels and food stalls colorfully paint the picture. Be sure to get a taste of the salt water taffy, Fisher’s Carmel Popcorn and the French fries from Thrashers. The nighttime offers hoards of entertainment, too. Live concerts at dusk followed by bonfires on the beach at night are a great way to end the day. Late September in Ocean City is home to the Kite Festival. With colorful kites majestically blowing in the balmy winds, it’s a great way to send off the summer.
Barcelona is a quirky funky town that is brimming with things to entice and inspire. Antoni Gaudi, Spain’s most well-known Art Nouveau architect, strongly influenced Barcelona’s identity with his natural designs and bright abstract colors that are sprinkled throughout the city. His Park Guell is a beautiful place to take the kids, with amazing views of the city plus jungle gyms. One you’ve seen the sites in the city, consider a day trip to Montjuic. Take the Montjuic Gondola, which departs from Barcelonita and provides you with amazing views of the city that rests below. You’ll arrive at the top of Montjuic, a mountain that borders Barcelona. Besides the breathtaking views (again!) of the city, you can check out Castle Montjuic. It is now a military museum that houses several canons that your kids will love to climb on. Top the day off by watching the fountains on Montjuic put on a night show, with lights, colors and music.
Yellowstone Park is a great place for the family who’s looking for a nature retreat. Adventure out into the wilderness on horseback for some real fun. Or head downstream in white water rafts. Old Faithful is a natural wonder that is both beautiful and puzzling. Be sure to plan your visit so that you can witness this marvel. Cheyenne Frontier Days, a festival during July, is an exciting place for the kids. Take your kids to the festival and teach them about Native American life, amidst the rodeos, cook-offs and National Guard Air Show. Nighttime is just as exciting as the day. Share scary stories around a bonfire while smores melt in your mouth. Turn off all the lights for a view of the skies that is unrivaled. Stars twinkle while meteors flash across the sky.
Scoop up the kids and hop a plane to Myrtle Beach, SC where there is truly something for every member of the family. Enjoy 60 miles of beaches, known as the “Grand Stand”. Once off the sand and in the ocean, there is no shortage of water sports to keep you busy. Try snorkeling, surfing, fishing, parasailing, or even a sunset cruise. When you tire of salt water, head to one of the areas many water parks and glide down a giant water slide.
Once you’re back on dry land, be sure to play some mini golf, one of Myrtle Beach’s signature activities. With over 40 mini golf courses and plenty of actual golf courses to choose from, Myrtle Beach will satisfy both the adult and youth golf players in the family. On a rain day, hit Ripley’s Aquarium and gaze into the giant tanks to view Reefs and Sting Rays, or head to the Children’s Museum or Planetarium.